The new "A" in the sidebar is a link to Richard Dawkins "OutCampaign." I think it's more important now than ever, to be absolutely open and clear about one's atheism. Not to waffle and hedge about it, in order to make other people feel comfortable. Our cultures spends so much time making sure that people of all religions feel good about themselves as long as there is some religious affiliation or even the desperate claim of being 'spiritual'. But 'god forbid' someone takes an active, informed, well thought out claim that they do not believe in God. From Slate:
"Many Americans doubt the morality of atheists. According to a 2007 Gallup poll, a majority of Americans say that they would not vote for an otherwise qualified atheist as president, meaning a nonbeliever would have a harder time getting elected than a Muslim, a homosexual, or a Jew. Many would go further and agree with conservative commentator Laura Schlessinger that morality requires a belief in God—otherwise, all we have is our selfish desires. In The Ten Commandments, she approvingly quotes Dostoyevsky: "Where there is no God, all is permitted."
Religious people often have a misguided belief that atheism is a negative, selfish, grim and morally corrupt way to be. That somehow, unless you answer to God, you are less capable of goodness and kindness. I think, however, a far more difficult person to answer to is yourself. Dostoevesky is correct in the quote Schlessinger uses, misguidedly, that "Where there is no God, all is permitted". Isn't it a much better way to be, to do good and kind things out of goodness and kindness, not out of fear of recrimination - because all is permitted and you can choose to be good and kind? Isn't it far more magical that this world functions, exists and grows all on it's own, with all it's amazing creatures, plants, organisms, systems, etc., than to believe that someone essentially waved his hand and created it just so? Isn't it far more elegant to study the world around you, learn about it and question it, be skeptical of it, and try to understand it and take responsibility for yourself in it than to lazily suggest it's all up to someone else?